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This year’s Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is designed for two purposes. First and foremost, it is intended to give K-12 teachers, tech coaches, and administrators two days of hands-on learning about educational technology. The second purpose is to provide a professional development experience in a setting that isn’t a generic conference center or uncomfortable classroom in midst of a summer maintenance project. Check-out this post to learn more about the setting. Review the following list to learn more about the content of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.



1. Helping students develop better search skills.

2. Using augmented reality in education.

3. Using virtual reality in education.

4. Infusing technology into outdoor lessons.

5. Making videos with students.

6. Producing podcasts with students.

7. Interactive digital storytelling.

8. Crafting meaningful formative assessments.

9. Creating a plan to make the most of the technology you have in your school.

10. Workflow hacks to free up time to take care of yourself throughout the school year.



This is a preliminary list it may be modified based on the interest and expertise of those who register. Speaking of registering, the super-early discount is available for one more week. Register in the next seven days to get in at the lowest rate.

This morning I had the honor of giving the opening keynote at the SET-BC District Partner Conference in Vancouver. The title of my talk was Built to Last - What Works in Educational Technology. The purpose of the talk is to provide an overview of what makes some ed tech tools last for many years while others are just a flash in the pan. I was asked to give a ninety minute talk so there were a handful of "turn and talk" breaks during my presentation. The slides from my talk are included below and can be accessed here. The slides alone don't give the full context of the talk, but you can get a broad outline from it. Later this week or early next week I'll publish a longer post about some of the details of the presentation.



Adobe Spark is one of my favorite free tools for creating videos. It works well on Chromebooks and any other laptop that is using a modern web browser. One the excellent features of Adobe Spark Video is the integrated image search tool. When students use images found through the integrated search, the image is automatically added to a credits screen at the end of the video. While the default image library in Adobe Spark is good, it is possible to expand the size of the library in your Adobe Spark account settings. Watch my video to learn how to find more free images to use in your Adobe Spark video projects.




Earlier this month I published Ten Search Strategies Students Should Try. An eleventh strategy that students can try when they are researching current events, trending topics, or any rapidly changing topic is to refine results according to publication date. In the following video I demonstrate how students can refine search results according to publication date.



The Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge kicks-off two weeks from now. You don't need to be an Edublogs user in order for your students to participate in the challenge. If you're new to blogging or new to having students blog, Edublogs is a solid choice for a blogging platform. Edublogs isn't the only option for student bloggers. In this updated chart I compare seven options for creating student blogs.



At the bottom of my blogging platforms comparison chart you will see my final ranking of the seven services. Spoiler Alert! I rank Edublogs and Blogger as 1a and 1b. But take a look at the chart and see which services have the features that you want and need.



My YouTube channel contains many short tutorials on the features of both of these blogging services.

The Smithsonian Science Education Center's Weather Lab is one of many online learning activities produced and hosted by the Smithsonian. The Weather Lab is designed to help elementary and middle school students learn about weather patterns.



In the Weather Lab students select an ocean current and an air mass then try to predict the weather pattern that will result from their choices. The Weather Lab provides an overview of the characteristics of each air mass and ocean current. Students should use that information in making their weather predictions.  After making their predictions the Weather Lab will tell students if they were correct or not. In the feedback given to students they will find links to videos for further learning about each weather pattern featured in the Weather Lab.



Applications for Education

The Smithsonian Science Center's Weather Lab isn't the most robust online activity that you'll find online. That said, it is a good starting place for lessons about weather. I would have students use the Weather Lab to learn a bit about weather patterns then transition them to using real-time meteorological data to make weather forecasts for where they live.

One of the ways that I keep the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers is through the sale of online training webinars on my other site, Practical Ed Tech. This weekend all of the on-demand webinars are on sale at 50% off. Click here to take advantage of the offer.



Practical Ed Tech webinars on sale this weekend:



  • 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
  • Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners
  • Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep
  • Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • 5 Ways to Blend Technology into Outdoor Lessons
Click here to get one, two, or all six of these webinars at 50% off!

Good morning from Paris Hill, Maine where the snow has stopped and the sun is shining. It's a perfect day to go snowshoe festival. That's exactly what one of my daughters and I are going to do as soon as I finish writing this post.



This week I had the pleasure of leading an all-day workshop for a fun group of teachers in Pekin, Illinois. The title of the workshop was using Technology to Engage All Learners. It was a condensed version of what we do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Speaking of which, a couple more people took advantage of the February discount for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.



These were the week's most popular posts:

1. Six Online Whiteboard Drawing Tools

2. ReadWorks Now Offers Illustrated eBooks

3. A Handful of Resources and Ideas for Valentine's Day Lessons

4. New Features are Coming Soon to Your Gmail Inbox

5. 7 Tips for Moving from Decorating to Designing Classrooms

6. How to Use Keynote to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

7. How to Use Google Slides to Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories



Now Booking Summer Workshops!

Summer might feel a long way away right now, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.





The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in February and you'll save $70! Registration is now open here.



Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.

Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.

TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.

Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.

University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.


Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

The BBC's Skillswise website offers many good activities for learning and practicing skills in language arts and mathematics. A section of the site that could be useful in a lot of classrooms is the speaking and listening section. The speaking and listening section contains subsections offering lessons and activities to develop a specific skill. Those skills are listening for specifics, communication skills, formal and informal speaking, and giving presentations. Each section has a short introductory video followed by a set of quizzes and interactive games in which students test their skills.



Applications for Education

While all of the activities are good, the speaking and listening activities on Skillswise that I would be most inclined to use with students are the types of listening and listening for specifics games. The games in both sections require students to listen and follow a set of detailed instructions to complete tasks like delivering products to addresses, recording details of story, and responding to emergency situations.

Random Name Picker is a free tool from Russel Tarr at Classtools.net. Random Name Picker lets you input names and spin a virtual wheel to have a name randomly selected from the list. After a name is selected you can remove it from the wheel so that it is not selected again.



Random Name Picker is free to use and does not require a registration on Classtools.net. You can save your lists by assigning passwords to them. You can re-use your saved lists. The Random Name Picker wheel can be embedded into your blog or website. The Random Name Picker was written in HTML5 so that it will run in the browser of your iPad.




Applications for Education

At one point or another every teacher has asked for volunteers and not had any hands raised. In that situation using the Random Name Picker could be a fun way to select the order in which students will present to classmates.Or for those times when all of your students raise their hands for something fun like being the line leaders, the Random Name Picker is a convenient tool to have at your disposal.

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